Suddenly Single… Minded

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Salinger was 40-something when we met.

JD Salinger was 40-or 50 something when we met.

I had just been “Asked to leave” the all-girls boarding school near Carmel.

Sister Cecile Marie said my “Antics were no longer to be tolerated.” The old bag.  However, she agreed to give me one last chance.

So, I skipped study hall. I ditched my uniform in the hollow, redwood tree stump and slipped into my bellbottoms, Mexican peasant blouse, and sandals; I climbed over the fence in the school garden and hitchhiked into Carmel.

I went right to the beach. Most days, a guy from the all-boy’s school, Robert Louis Stevenson, would be smoking weed and reading Camus or Sartre and we would get high. This day, a perfect day for banana milkshake, an older guy asked if he could sit next to me in the sand. We struck up a conversation. I was so bored with all the phony girls at school.  Adults like me. I told him my name was Jane Steele, just for the hell of it. He told me his name was Jerry.

We chatted amiably.  I assumed he had a kid one of the prep schools around and was snooping.  I told him I had entered the contest to be a Seventeen Magazine Editor. It was a really big deal. I made a fashion collage and a bitchen cassette tape of the Stones, Beatles and Dylan songs – perfect background music for a Coco Chanel meets Betsy Johnson fashion show.  I also wrote a comedy about American family addicted to television – they spoke in jingles.  It had taken me days to complete the project. I skipped a lot of math and science classes and that stuff bores me.

We walked on the beach and talked for an hour. He seemed to think I was fascinating. He reminded me of my dad and wore Aramis cologne, too.

We walked into Carmel. The damn main street is like a Hansel and Gretel village. It is just too phony and cute. I told him my Hansel and Gretel Munching-houses-disease joke. He thought I was hilarious.

We walked by a bookstore where I purchased a book without a cover. The bookstore was called ‘Satan’s Haven’ and it only sold paperback books- sans-covers. They are cheaper. All the kids went there: Hearst, Hewlett, and Packard.

That week, we met twice more and talked for a couple of hours. He was okay. On Saturday, my parents were coming from Palos Verdes to pick me up. Sister Cecile Marie finally decided she had given me enough chances.  

Jerry told me I could stay with him at his house. What teenage girl is going to move into a house with an old man? My parents would have a fit.

And I knew I was going to win the Seventeen Magazine contest and be in New York at the Barbizon Hotel and would be easing my way into the new school, Goddard College.

He was the old man on the beach.

I met him way before Joyce Maynard….Salinger


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